Music and Words

April 23, 2010

Talks Too Much

Filed under: Words — melomania @ 10:04 am

My boss introduced a new student to me this morning.

Boss: “This is Stephanie. She won’t torture you as much as I did.”

Me, to student: “I don’t talk as much as she does.”

Student, under his breath: “Sweet.”


April 6, 2010

iPad Review

Filed under: Words — melomania @ 10:35 pm
Tags: ,

I’ve had my iPad since about 11:00 Saturday morning, which makes approximately 84 hours that I’ve owned this device. Not too long after I brought the thing home and started playing with it, I made a decision.

I love it.

Allow me to clarify. It’s not perfect, and it doesn’t fully replace my laptop. (It’s not designed to anyway.) But I love it.

I feel like it’s a great size. I know a lot of people complain that it’s not widescreen because it makes movies look funny, but I don’t spend enough time watching movies to care. Besides, we had a 4:3 TV for a really long time (like, we bought our first HDTV at Thanksgiving) so I’m pretty used to seeing the little black bars across the top and bottom of the screen. Doesn’t bother me at all.

The iPad itself is easy to carry around, but big enough that I can easily view websites without the constant scrolling that my iPhone demanded. Obviously I can’t put it in a pocket and it won’t even fit in my purse, but remember I was a student until just under a year ago. I’m used to carrying books around just by holding them in my arms. After I graduated, I sometimes felt weird NOT carrying anything other than a purse, keys, and a cell phone. I’m thinking I’ll buy a bigger bag to use as a combo purse/iPad carrier in a while, but it doesn’t bother me enough to run out and do it now. And like I said, websites look great.

After the iPad was announced, much of the internet erupted. “But it’s basically just a big iPod Touch!” they said. Yes. Yes it is. And in some cases, that word “big” can make a lot of difference. Watching movies, reading ebooks, viewing non-iPhone-optimized websites – all of these things are possible on the iPhone, but just a little bit frustrating. All the scrolling, page-turning, and holding-the-thing-six-inches-from-your-face-so-you-can-see-the-skeleton-on-Bones just gets old after a while. The bigger screen eliminates a lot of that frustration. For example, I used the Netflix app a couple days ago to stream Monsters, Inc. on the iPad, and really enjoyed the viewing experience.

The screen is very shiny, which means that all fingerprints are very visible when the screen is off, especially those from where I almost dropped it on the floor and caught it just in time. (Ninja skills, that’s me.) I’ll probably tend to be rather obsessive about cleaning the screen often, but hey, it’s mine. And if I want to obsess about something, that’s my problem.

The screen resolution is great. Everything just looks so sharp. To be perfectly honest, the whole device is just pretty. It’s beautiful. Never thought you’d hear me say that about a gadget, huh. The hardware looks sleek and attractive, the display is crystal-clear, and I’m still occasionally amazed at how well it responds to a touch.

The iPad is fast. I mean, really fast. Everything loads quickly, even webpages, which are dependent on our (rather slow, considering it’s supposed to be “high-speed”) internet connection. Everything happens faster than on my iPhone, and much faster than on my laptop. Apps load faster and even the screen rotation is faster when I flip the iPad around. I continue to marvel: it’s just so fast.

And speaking of screen rotations, the screen-lock switch was a great idea. I was reading an ebook the other night and wanted to lay on my side. So I flipped the switch, rolled over, and turned the iPad 90 degrees clockwise. And then I continued to read. I know the iPhone is supposed to have a way that you can lock the screen rotation in certain apps, but I could never get it to work, so I spent a lot of time trying to keep the screen from flipping around on me while I was reading. (I also spent a lot of time turning pages because the iPhone screen is so small it only fits about 15 or 20 lines on a page. Which brings me back to my point about the iPad screen size – the bigger screen has its advantages.)

The on-screen keyboard is a little cumbersome, but that is because I’m a touch-typist, and you can’t feel a software keyboard. I can certainly work with it but I’ve found that for anything longer than a few sentences, I need something that I can feel. I bought an Apple bluetooth keyboard (that I’m using right now to type this on the iPad), and I really like it. The iPad/keyboard setup works well for me.

I’m not going to discuss any specific apps right now, because I’m planning to do a future post with a more in-depth look at some of my favorites. However, I will mention that a lot of the iPad-specific apps have been very well done. They look great and function exactly as expected.

I will point out that because the operating system is the same as the iPhone, there was really no learning curve for me to use the iPad. I pulled it out of the box, plugged it in to my laptop to activate and sync with iTunes, and used it. Obviously if you’ve never used an iPhone or iPod Touch before you’ll have to get used to it, but even that’s not hard. Here, I’ll help: start touching things and see what they do. If you want to get out of something, click the button with the little square on it at the bottom (or side, or top, depending) to get back to the home screen. Congrats, you now know how to work an iPod Touch, an iPhone, or an iPad!

Pretty straightforward. Of course, there are a lot of things that you get used to and tricks that you pick up along the way, but I’ve learned all of them by trial and error. I’ve never read a book on how to operate any of these devices, or watched a tutorial. I start pressing buttons and see what they do. Besides, I’m the kind of person who will remember it better if I tried it myself anyway.

Please note: I am not saying this is the perfect device, the most amazing thing you will ever encounter, and you absolutely must go out and buy one right now, or I will beat you up. I’m simply trying to say that I feel this was a good decision FOR ME, and explaining some of the things I particularly like about the iPad. Remember: if you don’t like the iPad, or Apple, or closed systems, then DON’T BUY ONE. No one is forcing you to. It’s my blog, and I’m giving you my opinion, not some crazy ultimatum.

Trust me, I’m a lot meaner when I’m giving ultimatums.

On Multitasking

Filed under: Words — melomania @ 9:46 am
Tags: ,

One of the biggest objections to the iPhone when it was first announced, and to the iPad ever since January, is its lack of multitasking. My mom can’t have her game of Spider Solitaire open on one half of the screen and be checking GMail on the other half.

Before I go on, I need to point out both devices actually do have some ability to multitask. You can listen to the iPod in the background at all times. The iPhone even turns off your music for you when you get a call and automatically turns it back on when you hang up. Push notifications allow the phone to check email and Twitter in the background and let me know if something needs my attention. A lack of multitasking hasn’t hampered my ability to get things done on my phone.

But what does “multitasking” really mean? Do you actually mean you’re reading email with one eye and Twitter with the other? No. You mean you’re checking email and flipping over to your Twitter feed when you want to check it.

Well guess what…the iPad does that. In fact, the iPad handles flipping back and forth between apps a lot better than my Windows PC at work, and sometimes even better than my MacBook. The speed of the device means I’m not really waiting at all, and if I am it’s due to the Internet speed at home, which is a problem no matter what piece of technology you’re using to access it.

I’ve been using an iPhone since August and the iPad since Saturday, and this much-lamented “lack” of a feature hasn’t bothered me at all – on either device. If I’m going to be doing something that I know I need more power for, or can’t do on the smaller device for any reason (which is very rare since I finished school), well that’s what I have a laptop for. I’m not getting rid of my other computer. (Since both the iPhone and the iPad still have to be synced to the computer, that’s not really feasible anyway.)

And maybe it bothers you to have to switch devices. That’s fine. I’m certainly not going to tell you how to do your computing (although I am pretty inclined to tell you to stop complaining). If you have that big an objection to the iPad then DON’T GET ONE! No one is forcing you. I’m simply explaining why I like my iPhone and my iPad and why the lack of multitasking doesn’t bother me.

In fact, I’ve gotten so used to the way I do things on my iPhone, I don’t even notice it.

April 5, 2010

The iPad Story

Filed under: Words — melomania @ 7:46 pm
Tags: ,

I woke up nice and early (hey, 8:30 is really early for me on my day off) on Saturday morning to go stand in line at the Apple Store for an iPad. I had already reserved one as soon as they were available to be reserved and I was excited to get my hands on one before I was going to go flying with my dad. As I got ready to leave, the puppy decided it was time for her walk and started to bark at me. Instead of giving her a walk, I took her with me.

The Apple Store here in Tucson is located in an upscale outdoors mall and they are very pet-friendly. It wasn’t completely out of the blue.

We got there at about quarter to ten, and heard that the line for people who had reserved iPads was much shorter than it had been at 9, when the store opened, but it was still pretty long. We probably stood in line for a good 45+ minutes. Aria didn’t like it because I wouldn’t let her go explore and pick up the food that people had dropped on the ground.

By the time I finally got inside, Aria was ready to go home, so I didn’t stop to look at accessories. I just grabbed my box, flashed my debit card, and I was out of there.

We got home and I activated and synced the iPad to my laptop and played with it for a while (I’ll work on writing an actual “review” later) and then went flying with Dad. While we ate lunch, I got him hooked on the iPhone version of Flight Control. Now pay attention to that point, because it’s going to be relevant later.

We went flying, which was really fun, and then came home. I spent the rest of the night continuing to play with my new toy. I was only interrupted once, to go to Blockbuster and rent Sherlock Holmes. The dog came with me again and managed to escape from the car because she wanted to come inside with me. But this post isn’t about her.

On Sunday we had an Easter service in the morning, and I brought the iPad to show off to some friends. He lorded his iPhone over me for two, maybe three years. I feel it’s only fair for me to get a few weeks of being more technologically advanced than him. (Then he’s getting the 3G/GPS version, so I’ll have to shut up. Again.)

After church we had lots of people over for lunch and a couple of kids ran off with my iPad to play games on it. Then when they left my dad stole it and played Flight Control (which might actually be the only thing he knows how to do on the thing). After I finally got it back, the battery was almost dead (after probably 11 or 12 hours of game-playing) so I had to get my laptop and charge it.

I systematically rearranged all my iPhone and iPad apps on the screens according to which I use the most. Then tonight after work I stopped off at the Apple Store on my way home and bought a sleeve for the iPad and a bluetooth keyboard.

Because I hadn’t spent enough money already.

The keyboard is really nice though. I touch-type, and very quickly, so the software keyboard just wasn’t working out well if I needed to do any more than a sentence or two. This whole blog post has just been done on the bluetooth keyboard through the iPad WordPress app.

Pretty sweet.

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